Friday, September 30, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

Well, it's happened. I'm on a veggie kick. I haven't eaten, bought, or made a piece of meat for over a week either for my kids or myself. My husband and I took a long look at our eating habits and I realized that we were getting fatter and raising our kids to grow up as fat, slobby Americans too. Then we watched a documentary called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead". We were stunned at how the fat seemed to melt off of the two guys in the movie and how quickly it happened. That was it for me. We changed our eating habits the next day. Since then, my husband and I have been drinking home made juice for breakfast and lunch while snacking on raw fruits and veggies throughout the day. We finish it off with a healthy veggie based dinner. We're only five days into the "new" us, but I've lost 5 pounds and my husband has lost 7. I'm liking this new diet and I feel like for the most part, it's something we can continue to sustain once we've lost the amount of weight we'd like to lose. As a result, I'm posting vegan friendly dishes, of course. There won't be any bread, rice, or pasta either.

As a side note, I have still been feeding my kids some carbs. The little dears are growing and need a balanced intake of food. But now they're getting a lot more fruits and veggies and less processed crap.

Spaghetti Squash with Kale Pesto

2-4 large spaghetti squash
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ pound lacinato kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (1 medium bunch should do)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp Emril's Essence Seasoning, plus extra to taste (recipe follows)
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (this is optional)
Ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut squash in halves, scoop out seeds and pulp. Rub olive oil around inside squash and at edges. Season with salt, pepper, and Seasoning to taste. Place on aluminum foil lined baking sheet face down. Bake for 30-40 minutes until skin is easily pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add kale and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. While kale is cooking, brown walnuts in a heavy skillet with no oil until toasted. You'll need to stir these constantly so they don't burn. If they burn, they'll turn bitter. You'll know they are toasted because they'll darken just slightly and be fragrant. Remove them from heat.

When kale is soft, drain it and toss it in a blender or food processor with garlic and walnuts. Mix until kale is in tiny pieces. Add oil and Seasoning and pulse the items together. Transfer to a new container and hand mix in the cheese. Add pepper to taste. (This pesto can be kept for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

When the squash is done, take it out, flip it over and let cool so that you can handle it without burning your fingers. When ready, scrape out the spaghetti like strands from the squash onto plates and top with the pesto. Voila! Enjoy!

Emeril's Essence Seasoning

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Blend all together in airtight container.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From the dregs of the pantry...

Comes Hamburger-Ramen-Vegetable-Thing! So I'm sitting in my kitchen today having come home very late from what could have been (but wasn't) an awesome seminar. My kids are hungry; my husband is already home; I'm tired; and the last thing I wanted to do was cook. I didn't really want to order-in either because we've been eating a LOT of pizza lately due to Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Vacation. So I'm staring at this pound of beef I thawed out and I'm trying to decide what to do with it, when I get the idea to just sort of go at it with the basics. That's how I came up with this surprising tasty bit of one skillet supper. It's not fancy, but the kids ate seconds and so did my husband. It was perfect for a quick meal and will definitely go on my list of regular, and inexpensive dinners.


1 lb. ground beef
2 cups water
1 can cream of mushroom
2 1/2 cups frozen veggies (I used 1 1/2 cups frozen carrots, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup frozen corn)
1 can of mushroom stems and pieces (with juice)
3 pkg of chicken flavored ramen with seasoning.

Okay, ready for the super easy part? Brown beef. Drain. Wipe down skillet with a paper towel to get the excess grease. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes until ramen and veggies are soft and warm. Absolutely no talent needed. I also tried it with a little sour cream. It gave it a stroganoff-y sort of taste. If you're after that flavor, then I would add about 3/4 cup right at the end. Simple. I didn't even add any additional spices since the ramen seasoning did that for me. The sodium content was probably outrageous, but I'm pretending like I didn't notice. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4 Ingredients, Quick and Easy

My Italian is hanging out again. And so is my laziness. And my desire to get dinner on the table quickly. And my it's two days before payday and my fridge is empty, what am I going to feed the kids? This recipe is perfect because it's easy, quick, filling, and inexpensive.

4 Ingredient Pasta Cassarole

A box of Pasta (1 lb) - I tend to use rotini, but use what ya got.
A can or jar of spaghetti sauce (onion and garlic tends to work best, but again, use what you have on hand.)
A packet of Italian dressing mix
Enough mozzarella cheese to cover a 13x9 dish to the thickness you like. (Generally 1 to 1 1/2 cups, but you can use less.)

1. Cook the pasta. Drain.
2. Mix sauce and dressing mix together. Add pasta.
3. Place in a 13x9 baking dish and cover with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and pasta is heated.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Unstuffed Peppers

Okay, the honesty is going to pop out of this post today, but sometimes that's what ya gotta do. I don't really like green peppers. I don't really like red peppers. I don't like yellow or orange peppers for that matter, either. And I really HATE stuffed peppers. Don't know why. It's just one of those things I guess. Now I'm not going to try to fool you into thinking that I love this next dish. That would be a lie. HOWEVER, I'm not going to tell you that I hate it either. It taste like an everyday dinner to me, because I figured out a fantastic way to keep those darn peppers away from me. I did it out of necessity, because my ex-husband was a pepper fanatic! He ate peppers constantly. Ewww. So I created a dish I like to call Unstuffed Peppers. This way, I don't have to eat them and the stuffing is good (because it's my recipe). If you like peppers, then you'll probably love this and if you don't like peppers, but someone else does, then give this a shot.

Unstuffed Peppers

1 lb ground turkey or beef
1/2 medium onion
2 cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 bell peppers, diced or chopped (as fine as you can stand them)
1 1/2 bell peppers, sliced lengthwise
3 c. large macaroni noodles (there's the Italian in me again.)
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
2 T olive oil
1/4 t garlic powder
1 t oregano
1 t parsley
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese, optional

1. Brown meat. Drain.
2. Add onion, chopped pepper, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and noodles to meat. Cook until noodles and peppers are soft. Add garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper.
3. Saute sliced pepper in olive oil (this is optional. Cook them the way the pepper lover likes. My ex used to want them not cooked at all.)
4. Arrange sliced peppers on a plate. Top with meat mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan on top if desired.
5. Enjoy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Couldn't find it.

So it's probably apparent that I couldn't find the recipe I was looking for, hence my not posting it or really anything for the last few days. Sorry, guys. I'll try harder to stay on top of stuff.

Today's recipe should totally make up for missing those few days. I call it Pasta Salad Stuffed Tomatoes and it's perfect for a hot day. I've been dreaming about it all day because I live in Kansas and it's been over 100 degrees F for the last few days (literally deadly). This can be served warm or cold and both ways it's a treat. I use orzo (which looks like rice) or really any small pasta (stars, acini de pepe, or pastina, work well) so my kids never think that they're eating another pasta dish. What can I say? I'm Italian at heart and so is most of my cooking.

Pasta Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

1 cup uncooked orzo or other small pasta
1 pkg. diced, cooked chicken breast
1 cup crumbled feta or Monterrey jack cheese
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/4 c sun-dried tomato pesto (if you can't find this then mix even parts drained-sun dried tomatoes and pesto. It won't be the same, but it will still taste yum.)
1/4 t salt
2 T lemon juice
4 medium tomatoes

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with water to cool; drain well.
2. Meanwhile, combine chicken, cheese, basil, pesto & salt. Stir gently to mix and refrigerate until pasta is cooled and ready.
3. Add orzo to chicken mixture. Toss gently. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
4. To make tomato cups, cut off stem end and scoop out pulp; discard. Spoon salad mixture into tomato cups.
5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A borrowed lasagne

Today's hidden veggie recipe comes from a website called The Sneaky Chef. Apparently this chick makes a living hiding veggies. I've never posted an address and suggested people go there for today's recipe, but I'm going to do it today because I'm going with a theme and I can't find the last recipe that I was planning on posting. Hopefully, it will surface for tomorrows post or else I'm just going to have to move on. If hiding veggies is something that seriously interests you, I strongly suggest you poke around on this lady's website. She has plenty of everything for your picky eaters. And she does a great job showing how a little creativity will go a long way in the kitchen. The only advice I'll give is beware of brownies. I've tried adding spinach to mine and the kids can always tell that there is something not quite right with them. So check out this site, it has a recipe for a fairly quick (considering the item) lasagne on it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Burgers, Anyone?

Yes! Burgers! Even something so wild and wholesome as a hamburger can be loaded with hidden veggies! That's right, I said hidden! Don't tell the hubby; don't tell the kids! Just make and enjoy. It's a new twist on an old favorite and since the veggies are mostly hidden, no one will whine about it. See what you think:

Hidden Veggie Burgers

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms (white is generally best)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped or grated zucchini
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T ketchup
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 T olive oil
Hamburger buns, for serving plus optional toppings (cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, etc)

1. Preheat oven or grill to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix meat, mushrooms, crumbs, zucchini, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, and pepper. It's going to be a little runny. Don't worry about it too much. If you decide to grill them, put a piece of aluminum foil down first so they don't slime or break through. Form into 16 patties and place them on a piece of waxed paper or aluminum foil.

2. Place patties in a single layer on a cookie sheet (with sides) or a baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, flipping after 5. You can also pan sear them first for a few minutes in the oil and then bake them for 5 or so minutes until desired doneness. If you use ground turkey make sure the burgers are cooked all the way through.